St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917)
The first American citizen to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church, Maria Francesca Cabrini was born in Northern Italy and took vows there in 1877. When she established her order, The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she hoped to be assigned to China, but was sent to America instead. Arriving in 1889 with six Sisters in tow, she quickly established a convent, school and orphanage in New York. Similar compounds in New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Los Angeles followed and later, hospitals. Cabrini and the Sisters also cared for prisoners, most of whom were sentenced to death. Among her international achievements were similar compounds in Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, and Panama. The order was later established firmly on the European continent as well. She took the oath of citizenship in Seattle in 1909. Efforts to canonize her in were started in1928 and she was elevated to sainthood in 1946, less than a hundred years after her birth.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821)
The first American-born person to be declared a saint, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the first American convent.
She was a widow and mother of five when she converted to Catholicism, taking her vows in 1809. Her order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, were responsible for nursing, assisting the poor and teaching. Mother Seton is often credited with the creation of the first parochial school in America. She administered more than twenty orders nationwide while still mothering her own children. She died at age 46 of tuberculosis. Seton Hall College was named for her in 1856. Efforts at canonization began in 1907 and she was elevated to sainthood in 1975.